Today, the Black In Fashion Council (BIFC) announced that it has signed up 70 companies to pledge to raise the percentage of Black employees in both executive- and junior-level positions. The organization, cofounded by New York–based fashion publicist Sandrine Charles and Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner, has nearly doubled the number of brands on board since their August launch announcement.
The new names span independent labels (Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch) and luxury conglomerates (Capri Holdings, the parent company for Michael Kors, Versace, and Jimmy Choo), and also include retailers (Saks Fifth Avenue, Shopbop) and two of the industry’s biggest talent management agencies (IMG and The Wall Group).
Hearst Magazines, the parent company of Harper’s BAZAAR, has also joined the list of companies committed to creating a workplace where Black people are represented and amplified at every level. Further, BAZAAR Editor-in-Chief Samira Nasr sits on BIFC’s advisory board.
“The process has been long, but we are determined to see actual change and progress in the industry,” Peoples Wagner tells BAZAAR.com. “Creating a new industry-wide standard as far as inclusivity has never been done before, but it’s needed now more than ever.”
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The BIFC was founded in June, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the protests and large-scale demonstrations that called for an end to racial inequality across all facets of society. Black fashion professionals began to express how opportunities for career growth are few and far between and how microaggressions are pervasive but speaking out can bring retaliatory consequences. In response, Charles and Peoples Wagner formed a space where the Black fashion community can openly discuss their struggles and introduced an equality index—modeled after the Corporate Equality Index that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has for those who identify as LGBTQ+—that scores the level of inclusivity within a company.
All signees have pledged to work with the BIFC for the next three years to make integral changes and strides toward inclusivity. The process begins with one-on-one check-ins this fall, and BIFC will also be hosting listening sessions with diversity and inclusion executives, as well as HRC experts, on the ways in which other companies have found success. Early next year, each company will complete a survey that evaluates four pillars—human resources, talent inclusion, support, and corporate spend—which will be reviewed with HRC to generate equality index scores and create personalized action plans for improvement.
“We’ve taken a lot of time to think about how we move forward to make sure that brands are not just checking a box and that they’re actually committed to systematic change,” adds Peoples Wagner. “We’ve made this process so easy for brands to sign onto. Sandrine and I are doing this because we truly care about the progression of the industry.”
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